Under The Hammer
Tonight, here in NYC at Sotheby's, a whole load of contemporary art is going under the hammer
while last night's sales at Christie's brought in a new high when Francis Bacon's Triptych, keenly
fought for, went to the successful bidder for $142.4 Million, breaking the record set by Edward Munch's
"Scream." I can hear the wailing from here . . .
Meanwhile, over in Long Island City in Queens, a warehouse given over to the legal activity of
city graffiti, raw art that is known as 5Ptz, is also under the hammer. That is, the
The owners seem to have accepted a good price (along with tax breaks etc) from developers who want
to put up residential towers - sweeping views of NYC skyline including Empire State Building and
Chrysler Building in the one frame!
I am not the first one to venture out there with my camera: we were a veritable little tribe of nods,
winks and aren't we cools! but rumor has it that this is all due to come tumbling down before the
end of the year. Or at least barricaded and scaffolded with warning notices etc. Who know's, if I
keep going out there regularly enough in the months ahead, I might be the last out there with my
For what it's worth, it's a beautiful site. The glorious armpit of art. Living, breathing,
everchanging and priceless but going to the highest bidder.
As Andy Warhol always said, "Got to bring home the Bacon."
(Andy's Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) went way over Sotheby's conservative estimate!)
I remember when you went here before, and I loved the shots from then, too. What a shame that things have to go. I wonder who will be able to afford to live in the new residential towers, with those fabulous views?
I forgot to mention the railway tracks which run around the building, both on the ground and the elevated tracks, and the nearby bus depot, and taxi depot . . . .
These are so beautiful – the light you’ve captured. REally nice. Thanks!
Thank you so much Pierr, the afternoon sun was such a special treat!
A lot of nice graffiti. Very colorful.
It is spectacular to see the building as a whole, from all four sides. You would love it!
A feast for the eye. One can’t live without art and your photos keep giving sustenance. It always brings things into a bigger more worthwhile perspective and we can survive. Thank you Patti.
That’s very generous of you to say Gerard, thank you so much! It cheeses me off no end that for art to have any value it has to come with a price tag, and a hefty one at that.
Keep going there. If you do, you will have documented a very special piece of city.
Fingers crossed we get to keep going there for as long as possible!
Always anxious to see your next pictures. It’s great to see New York from here in Houston and wonder, is it really like that.
Tank you Tex and a pleasure to send you greetings from NYC, particularly while the features which make it what it really is manage to stay put!
Good report, and I’m glad that you photographed everything there. There may come a time that someone might be interested to know what the area looked like before, especially if the new devlopments prove to be austere.
Allan, there will be no shortage of photographs of 5Pointz, that’s for sure, and I can’t understand why it hasn’t been landmarked. I am well aware that the photos I took can be found all over the web but it was one of those photo days when I didn’t want to come home! Citibank has built a glass tower block nearby so I guess it is feeling a little lonely and in need of company ….
I can’t believe this may all be torn down soon! So much work had to of gone into those paintings.
Graffiti comes and graffiti goes, it’s the nature of that beast but yes, definitely sad to see this enormous canvas disappear.
Such a shame to see so much creativity under threat. I love the reworking of Caravaggio’s David and Goliath!
That hydrant gives it the perfect touch doesn’t it!
The onward march of developers nearly always seems to take precedence over anything else. Love the photographs, worth keeping and maybe some day millions for them as an example of “lost art”
Here’s hoping Donald Trump doesn’t have his fingers in this pie, he would have to name it something tacky like Trump Pointz. Plus I suppose there isn’t as much money to be made from re-developing the building as is, it would make great studio space! Thank you Mike for your kind words.
Too sad to think that the new neighborhood will probably seem very bare by comparison. Great post Patti!
Thank you Elena! If you have ever wandered where all those NYC corner coffee carts spend their nights, this building is home to so many of them. Where do they go after this? Everything gets pushed further out . . .
You have recorded history that will be erased soon Patti. Great graffiti and photos. What a shame they’ll be gone…
Thank you Paula! I have no doubt that the artwork on this building already has a great archive of shots behind it but it truly is something else to see in all its great expanse. Let alone to work on it!
Hi Patti, love the pictures. Urban blight is the source of urban art. What was once graffiti is has now morphed into full-scale mural art. Greedheads want money and ignore beauty. You caught it, put out on the net. The net is forever, they’ll last as long as someone can see them. Took my camera and cell phone out to shoot on Monday. I’m beginning to lust after a real-life SLR with lenses.
Thank you Tom and so good to hear you are getting out and about taking some shots! The more you do it, the more you will want to do it then the more you will need to do it, all on your own terms. It is great exercise for the mind, body and soul. Do you have your eye on a particular body and lens?
One reason why I love street photography is because with our shots will be the memory for the next generation.
Nice shots Patti
That’s for sure! Change is a part of life but I am always amazed at how quickly it all adds up, then I am amazed that I am even amazed . . . You keep up your great work HG!
Great shots of this really colourful and amazing graffiti. Sad to think it will be destroyed but that is the reality of street art. Good that you are capturing what you can.
Thank you Beth and yes you are so right about the reality of street art, which here in NY is illegal (for the whole month of October Banksy, the UK graffiti artist, was a wanted man here in NYC where he spent the month vandalizing, tantalizing, entertaining the city) but this location gave the artists a forum free from threat of arrests through the generosity (!) of the factory owners. Who are now selling . . .. .
Lovely record of the street art Patti. I guess the only constants in life are change, death and taxes. I suspect other areas will open up to allow this sort of creative talent to flourish. Keep on keeping on until then.
You are very right dear Lignum, we live we die we pay our dues! Interestingly enough 5Pointz is across the road from MOMA PS1!
Great shots! Rivals Berlin.
Thank you so much and lovely to meet you! Hope to get to Berlin one day!
in holland we have a saying “alles van waarde is weerloos”: every valuable thing is defenceless
A valuable thought, thank you Inge!
Big developers and big money win again (not unlike London, sadly). At least you captured some great shots. I’m sure there’ll be another area for this kind of expression popping up somewhere soon, even with the NY street art ban (I didn’t know that existed!). For anyone who likes this type of art and you fancy a foreign trip, you could do a lot worse that pay Tower Hamlets in East London a visit, particularly the areas of Shoreditch and Bethnal Green.
Thank you for this info Pie! The billionaire art splurgers always remind me of Al Pacino in Scarface . . . and as for that big money in London, NYC is feeling positively warm, fuzzy and local in comparison!
They have to build their fancy apartments so they have somewhere to put their newly acquired art. Oh…
Exactly Richard! Not only that, it also helps Steve Cohen, the hedge-fund billionaire “whose SAC Capital Advisors LP pleaded guilty to securities fraud and agreed to pay $1.8 billion to settle insider-trading charges.”
You always amaze me, Patti, with these unknown treasures. At least to one who is not NYC-wise!
Annie, you are way too kind, thank you so much and hope all well with you where you are!
Photography 2 class just finished a lesson on Street Art/ and Graffiti. I would like to show them your blog and photographs. Hope that is okay. Sorry to hear it is going to disappear.
Thanks for the documenting before it goes.
Ruth, such an honor and a pleasure, thank you and hope your class enjoys them. What a wonderful course of study – how good would it be to organize a class excursion! The physicality of the building is inspiring with so many layers, nooks and crannies, to it. The artwork can be viewed from so many different perspectives, constantly changing. It is not static and the feeling that the artwork is following you is rather overwhelming. Hope you get to see it on your next visit to NY!
What happens at Sotheby’s or at Christie’s (Francis Bacon’s Triptych for $142.4 Million) – it’s strange, isn’t it, Patti? And graffitis are forbidden nearly everywhere – you might be the last out there in the not completely controlled suburbs with your camera, doing an important job! P.S.: I was surprised by your finding “HYDRA HEAD” = stuff for an urban anthropology!
It’s such crazy money isn’t it!!!
I have photos of enough people out there taking photos so I presume it is not going to go down without good and thorough documentation – someone is probably putting together a movie about it all. The hydra head was a definite track stopper!
Thank you Rabirius!
Fantastic photos – so many cities have no clue how to preserve their art. In Montreal we have some of the most expensive condos in similar locations (surrounded by depots, railway tracks, the port) and it doesn’t seem to deter anyone from buying them – we also have great graffiti that needs more public support…
Thank you ideflex! I suppose it should be assumed that once the graffiti artists are given a site to use talks with the developers are well and truly in progress. Too much to hope that it could so easily have become an artists residence with studios, along the lines of Westbeth. All best to you in Montreal!
Glad to see you made it out to LIC – 5 Pointz will surely be missed by me and many others in the hood and the “street art” community at large.. I’ll be making some runs out there myself in the weeks ahead. Read the sad news about the recent judges decision in favor of the owners on the way back to NYC 😦
Pat, I am sure you must have gathered a great set of 5 Pointz shots over the years! Might see you over there in the weeks ahead!
I guess – you have heard by now that the owner had all the walls whitewashed overnight 😦 Thankfully I do have a nice collection of images from as far back as 2002… time to start gathering them up now and putting them in a safe place for the benefit of posterity …
Yes Pat, that didn’t take them long did it? I thought it would be up there for a little longer at least. As you can imagine there are some spirited comments doing the forum rounds on this topic starting with Gothamist and the NY Daily News. Good to know you have such an extensive collection of great shots and yes, posterity will benefit!
because you wrote about hurricane Sandy
I followed a German TV clip at
if I could I would visit
Red Hook, Brooklyn, the music-pub of Tone Johansen (she came from Norway):
she needed 1 year of efforts to recover from Sandy – with a little help from friends …
Frizz, Redhook was indeed battered by Sandy, and yes, it is another fascinating part of NY even if it is such a pain to get to without a car. But perhaps better to enjoy an evening out at this bar without having to worry about driving home! Some more info on Sunny’s from the NYT’s. Hope to see you there one day Frizz!
thank you for the name, Patti!
The name suits both them and the bar don’t you think? Thank you so much for the original link Frizz, you have inspired me to get out there sooner rather than later!
So what did you buy!!??? LOL
You are funny! Thought I would spend my $$’s on a book of great Texas shots instead!
LOL!! Make sure you call and ask for an autographed copy!!
A spectacular display of graffiti PK. You always seem to be in the right place at the right time camera at the ready.
It WAS a spectacular display indeed Zita . . .
For some reason I am not that much into graffiti, maybe becayse I often find the expression so violent? But there are exceptions of course, and I love the first and the last photo.
Bente, I understand just what you mean – I have the same feelings about much the religious art of my childhood. The violence terrified me! Yet somehow we work our way through to the beauty of much that surrounds us and I am so pleased to know you enjoyed those faces.
I love the intensity and energy in these images. Quite a different thing that an auction at Christie’s. I really like when you play with graffiti against “real” life and my favourite is the one taken under the viaduct.
Thank you Otto, the intensity and energy was definitely a big part of being out there but it also came with a strange sense of quiet calmness. Alas that was then and is no more and soon the elevated railway will be rumbling through a shinier new metropolis.
some really cool graffiti 🙂
and now almost all gone 😦
I find the strength of the artwork and the intensity of the graffiti to be amazing and you have done this work justice in your great images Patti. I love the way you have in this post discussed the opposites in art work and how such street art is to removed permanently while Chrisities clients pay millions.
My favourite image like Otto has to be under the viaduct and the last image of the face.
Hope you have a great end to the week
Some eye-watering newly released figures from last week’s art sales: Sotheby’s had its biggest sale ever, totaling $380 million on Nov 14, but it finished second to Christie’s whose sales the evening before brought in $691.5 million. Christie’s brought home the Francis Bacon! Thank you James and so pleased you enjoyed the tour!
These are stunning Patti. I wish they didn’t have to go. I hate shiny new metropolises and malls too. They wipe out more than graffiti in their wake.
Madhu, don’t get me started on malls . . . . .
Although I don’t live in NYC, I appreciate your tour of the art scene in this vibrant community.
And always good to know that art will find a way, we hope! Thank you so much Giovanni!
Great to hear from you, Patti. Art does find a way. It is our yearning to be known.
Very touching words thank you Giovanni. Indeed it is a yearning to be known, if only to know ourselves . . .
I enjoy your spirit and your thoughts Patti (the tribe of nods, winks & aren’t-we-cools is priceless and totally true!). A good juxtaposition, Queens graffiti and Southeby’s/Christie’s. The artwork here is pretty amazing. Maybe someone will decide they can make a bigger buck if they incorporate the art into their plans….ya think? 😉
And you can bet it won’t be the artist making the bigger buck! Great to have you along Lyn!
I think I should have seen this post first. Ditto on the comment I made on your next post.
The graffiti artist is always expressing what the current angst is. This building coming down
needed a message said. They must have felt the obligation to say it. Glad you were brave and
ventured into an area that looks a little unsafe. Hope all went well. Keep that camera clicking
these great photos of the history of Queens. ~~~ : – )
Turns out that some of the artwork could have been spared because it went on to boards attached to the original brick walls. It’s not over yet . . . . and such a shame to see the message go down in dust.
Issy, the area is fine, a hub of activity which I want to write about in more detail soon. You know all those coffee carts and hot food vans on NYC street corners? A huge number of them call this building home!
Amazing work..such powerful images..
Thank you Cath. They were, and I use this word sparingly, “awesome” to see in their full context!